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proof) that we are so súperior to any generation that has preceded us? Who shall say that those lost books, in which the wise king of Israel wrote upon all plants, from the cedar in Lebanon to the hyssop which groweth upon the wall, were not equal at least in botanical knowledge, to those which have appeared within the last century? Whó shall say that in those pyramids, (built, according to the best modern authorities, most accurately for astronomical observation), whose vast forms survive the wreck of ages, there were not recorded truths and calculations such as Herschel might delight to acquire ? Or, (to pass to later days) that the magi, who fol. lowed the wondrous star that led to Bethlehem, were not as fully versed in planetary lore as those who, in our day, have described the paths of comets, and foretold the hour when meteors should blaze and fall ? But to advance a step further—the theory is certainly at variance with the universal practice of the present day. Who claims for any modern writer a comparison with Homer and with Virgil ? and why, if we so far excel the ancients in literature, do we cling so closely to their writings, and bid our children drink at the impure fountain of their mythology, for the sake of the beautiful ideas they contain? With respect to arts, for whom do we now claim the chisel of Phidias, or on whom has the genius of Praxiteles descended? When the apostate Church of Rome would lead the passions of the natural man captive in her chains, she called not so frequently for living artists, as for the forms of heathen gods, to represent Christian apostles and martyrs-yea, even for the fabled Jupiter as an image of Him whom no man hath seen or can see. It is a very interesting investigation, and one which might fill a volume instead of a few pages, whether we are indeed in a state of mental culture (putting aside our knowledge of real religion, which will always place a Christian country above a heathen one), superior to many an ancient generation? But as this is the least important division of the subject, I pass on to show,-That Mr. Sharon Turner's view of this subject is a decidedly irreligious one.
To the law and to the testimony we are directed to apply in all cases where the soul and its Creator are concerned, and if we refer to this unerring standard we shall find that “ God created man upright; but they sought for themselves many inventions." (Eccles.' vii. 29.) It is the omitting the grand scriptural truth of man's utter depravity which renders so worthless the philosophy of many of our first authors.
They reason from man as he now appears—the blind, the sensual, and the ignorant; and persuade themselves that this was the being whom his Creator pronounced so good. Beauty, no doubt, there is, even in the present state of man, as far as his fellowcreatures are concerned, which, like the fallen and moss-grown pillars of some ruined temple, gives a faint idea of what the building once has been ; but when the relative position of man to God is viewed, all. traces of beauty vanish, and we see only the enmity of the creature to the Creator-the, hatred of vice to virtue. Philosophy may dream, in her
1 I would strongly recommend to your readers the perusal of Dr. Wardlaw's admirable Lectures on Christian Ethics, as an excellent antidote to much of the vain philosophy, and science falsely so called, of the present day.
distant cloisters, of virtue separate from religion ; but bring philosophy into the crowded city and her dreams must vanish into air. Man is indeed a fallen being, and it is to this bumbling truth that we must constantly return. Literature and science, useful and ornamental as they are, can do nothing towards the improvement of the soul; they may, like luxuriant flowers, adorn the prostrate pillar, but they can never lift its head towards heaven, or even give it a tendency in that direction. And this is proved by the example of Greece and Rome. Athens, the learned and the brilliant, where Socrates lectured and Demosthenes declaimed, was yet sunk in the grossest idolatry; the preaching of Christ crucified was to her foolishness; and, rejecting a God revealed in scripture, she raised, as the trophy of her ignorance, an altar to the unknown God. Rome, the capital of a world, whose laws were of the profoundest policy, and whose senators were of the wisest of the earth, yet, in her religious observances, worshipped deities for whom a Christian child would blush, and committed absurdities in her devotion, which provoke a painful smile.
What shall we say to these things ? Verily, that man by nature knows not God, and nothing which springs from nature can teach him God. If it could, revelation would indeed be useless. No, let us take our Bibles, with all that they contain, and compare them with our own hearts' testimony to their truth, and when we have deeply pondered the record of our fall, let us thank God that he has revealed to us a way of recovery from it. Let us give to literature and science their true place as handmaids to
502 ON “THE SACRED HISTORY OF THE WORLD.” faith ; let us take these records as proving the tenderness, the power, and the bounty of our Father God; but let us never for a moment dishonour Him, by placing the investigations of our feeble minds, or the theories of our darkened imaginations, in the place of those eternal truths, which are able to make us wise unto salvation.
I remain, Madam,
Your obedient servant,
· RECOLLECTIONS OF IRELAND.
By the Author of ‘A Visit to my Birth-place,' &c.
The infidel who, without reference to that other saying of the wise man, " The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposal thereof is from the Lord.” maintains without qualification that time and chance happenetb to all, sees nothing beyond the ordinary contingencies of life in the diversities of events and circumstances which attend the lot of individuals who were born perhaps under the very same roof, or distinguished by those respective particularities which would lead us to assign to one the portion that appears in the sequel to become the lot of the other. The Christian, taught by precept and experience that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that the Lord, ruling over all, guides the great machine of human being with the same unerring skill that first called it forth from chaos, sees in the shifting scenes of life, and the alternations of human existence, the viewless and majestic hand that first sent forth our lovely though sin-defaced planet to run its course among the orbs of light, giving to inanimate nature a law that could not be broken. So I thought